Francis rebounds with new race strategy
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil
It had been 16 long years since Jamaica won an Olympic medal in the men’s 4x400 metres; way too long for a country that announced its prowess to the world with gold at the 1948 Games.
That wait came to a sweet end inside the Olympic stadium last night as the team of Peter Matthews, Nathon Allen, Fitzroy Dunkley and Javon Francis clocked 2:58.16 to win silver behind the USA, 2:57.30, and ahead of The Bahamas, 2:58.49, for the country’s fifth overall medal in the event.
For Francis, who got some stick last year after he was overtaken on the anchor leg at the World Championships in Beijing as the country missed out on the podium, this was a shot at redemption and an opportunity to achieve a dream of his – a space in Jamaica’s 4x400m history.
Francis received the baton in fourth position, but split 43.78 seconds – the third-fastest on anchor, to overtake The Bahamas’ Chris Brown and Botswana’s Leaname Maotoanong to lift the Jamaicans to their third Olympic silver medal in the event.
“I feel very excited! It’s my first Olympics and I am going home with a medal,” said Francis, who also noted that he was inspired by Usain Bolt to ensure he helped the team to a podium spot.
“I saw Usain Bolt with his medal tonight and I said I wanted a medal to go back home with as well.”
It wasn’t his only motivation.
“A lot of persons doubted me and said I could not do it after the World Championships last year. That was a downfall for me, but I rebounded from that struggle. I learned from that, changed up my race strategy,” said Francis. “This is very important. I always said I wanted to be a part of history with Herb McKenley and those guys, so this was really important for me.”
Another youngster, Nathon Allen, who finished third at trials, but only ran the qualifying time after the cut-off point, said he always knew God had bigger plans for him.
“God has big plans for me, so sometimes in life when you don’t get the initial goal, you have to lift yourself up and move forward,” said Allen.
“For me to get an Olympic medal at the first attempt shows me that I can achieve greatness. I will take this, but I won’t settle. I will strive for greater things to come,” added Allen, who ran 44.00 on his leg.
Lead-off man Peter Matthews, who was clocked at 45.5, was elated with the win and also pointed to the country’s rich quarter-mile history, which he hopes this crop can continue to honour.